Is Kashayam a low-key torture technique or a potent Immunity Booster?

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The word kashayam is one that most of us have heard (and dread). The dark, herbal decoction was the biggest blip in my otherwise joyous summer-holiday schedule back when I was a kid. I remember my brother and I making a face every time my grandmother would bring us the steaming cup of Tulsi kashayam. As it turns out, grandma was not forcing us to drink kashayam to torture us. The herbal broth is widely accepted as a potent immunity booster and cure for various ailments. The word kashayam refers to any drink prepared by boiling an herb or group of herbs in a liquid. A plethora of recipes exists that make use of different combinations of Ayurvedic herbs and spices to prepare the medicinal broth.

What is Kashayam?

Also known as kwath or kaadha in different parts of India, kashayam is widely used all over the country to treat various disorders and ailments. It is an Ayurvedic drink prepared by boiling herbs and spices in water. The term kashayam or kaadha is used to refer to a category of similar drinks and is not the name of one specific medicinal drink. Most people, including myself, find the taste of the drink quite bitter. My mother would add honey to mask the bitterness. One could also use Jaggery or even Gulkand as a sweetener.

In Sanskrit Kashāya means astringent (bitter) and is the word to which kashayam traces its origin. As a general rule of thumb, the more concentrated the decoction is, the greater is its effect on the body. However, the quantity of the kashayam should be lowered accordingly. In the table below you will find a few classic kashayams and their uses.

List of kashayam Use
1. Amruthotharam Kashayam cures fevers and indigestion; helps in reducing ama build-up
2. Sukumaram Kashayam cures various abdominal disorders, menstrual disorders and female infertility
3. Ashtavargam Kashayam used to treat muscle and joint pain, inflammation and swelling
4. Kokilaksha Kashayam specifically used for the treatment of hyperuricemia and gouty arthritis
5. Punarnavadi Kashayam reduces the symptoms of liver and heart disorders; enhances liver functioning
6. Guluchyadi Kashayam mainly used for treating fevers and infections; improves immunity; balances the three doshas
7. Mahasudarshan Kadha used for the treatment of fevers caused by imbalances in the doshas; improves appetite; rejuvenates the body

Benefits of Kwath.

The effects of your average kashayam are quite simple, they help in treating fevers, colds, stomach pains and other related problems. However, what makes them remarkable is the speed of action of the drink. Since the powdered herbs are boiled in water for a while, the active compounds and other medicinal water-soluble components are transferred are present in the water and are readily absorbed by the body. Recently the Govt. of India started encouraging people to consume Ayush Kwath to bolster immunity against Corona virus.

The decoction can be prepared by boiling the powders of tulsi (4 parts), dalchini (2 parts), sunthi (2 parts)and marich (1 part)in water for an appropriate amount of time. One may also add jaggery or honey to sweeten the taste. A study conducted on the Ayush Kwath, with respect to COVID – 19, states that it has immunity bolstering and disease alleviating properties. Studies also suggest that general immunity plays a vital role in the early stages of Corona virus infection. A stronger immune system helps in decreasing the severity and extent of the disease at the later stages. Hence, medicinal herbs and drinks that enhance immunity (like kashayam) may be particularly effective in dealing with the situation. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-viral nature of the kashayam makes it a natural cure for the same.

If acquiring the ingredients and making the Ayush Kwath from scratch is not something you have the time for, head on over to our store to buy the herbal powder.

How to make Kashayam?

When it comes to preparation, home-made kashayams should be consumed within 4-6 hours. You may also find various tablets and kashayam drinks available in the market with variable shelf-lives. To make kashayam at home, it is advised to use powdered herbs and spices with the appropriate amount of water. Simply dry the required herbs or spices in direct sunlight and then grind them to obtain the powders. It is also possible to make a kashayam using whole herbs and spice but they have slightly different procedures. Follow the guide mentioned below to brew your own kashayam.

  1. Take the powdered/whole herbs and spices onto a pan. Use a pan with a wide mouth as it allows for faster evaporation. Add the required amount of water and ensure that all the herbs and spices are submerged within it.
  2. Next, allow the mix to remain undisturbed for two hours.
  3. Boil the mix over a medium flame until it reduces to one-fourth of the original volume. We do not want to use a high flame as it may burn the herbs. Additionally, the low flame allows for the maximum transfer of active compounds into the liquid.
  4. Once it has boiled properly, strain out the mix.

With the rapid changes brought about time, it becomes easy to get lost in the flow and move forward. Taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, however, should always be our top priority. To make the process a little simpler, consider trying our Churnas or Herbal Mixes. Although they do not entirely represent kashayam in its classical form, they can be considered a modern rendition of the same!

“The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine.” – Hippocrates


Reference 1: Immunity against COVID-19: Potential role of Ayush Kwath


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